Following the Centre’s strong objections to Kerala easing certain COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the State government on Monday decided not to allow plying of buses in cities, opening of restaurants and pillion riding on two-wheelers.
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Responding to the Centre’s concerns, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Kerala was not at variance regarding adherence to guidelines on the national COVID-19 lockdown.
In a letter to Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose, on Sunday, the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had said the State government had “diluted” the national timetable for the lifting of curfew sanctions and had “violated” Central government orders and provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The Centre had taken exception to Kerala’s decision to allow salons , dine-in facility at restaurants, workshops and book stores in districts categorised as relatively low-risk Green and Orange (B) zones.
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It had also objected to the opening of industrial units in municipal centres, public transportation, allowing more than two passengers in cars and permitting persons to ride pillion on two-wheelers.
Mr Bhalla had urged the State to rectify the guidelines and bring the State’s containment strategy in line with that of the Centre.
At his daily COVID-19 briefing, Mr. Vijayan announced a new set of guidelines that reflected the concerns raised by the Centre including a rescinding of the decision to reopen barbershops, allowing public transport or dine-in facilities in restaurants.
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He also announced stricter restrictions on mobility and banned pillion riders and more than two persons in cars.
Mr Vijayan said Kerala had witnessed an influx of citizens into public places on Monday. As the threat of resurgence and new flare-ups loomed large, the State could ill afford to lower its guard.
Mr. Vijayan said the State was not in disagreement with the Centre. The State’s containment measures have to reflect regional realities.
The Centre has given States some latitude in making tactical arrangements.
“Kerala is in touch with the Centre constantly. We had sought the Centre’s consent to implement certain measures differently to suit regional requirements. There is no Centre-State dispute or any scope for disagreement,” he said.